“It seemed perfect,” said Director of Digital Audience Development Stefanie Murray, who suggested that a Free Press reporting team use Intersect to chart their 13-day, seven-state effort to investigate the menacing northward invasion of Asian carp.
“One of the reasons we like Intersect is because it combines geolocation with live blogging and visuals,” Murray said. “Being able to put content against a map, and against a timeline, gives the news consumer more options.”
Reporter Tina Lam and photographer Brian Kaufman have so far posted 23 photo stories in nine days on the road. For each, they’ve designated the time and the place each story happened — as narrowly as a point in a river or as broadly as a whole state.
That’s allowed Intersect to build an embeddable time-place map of their entire journey. Dynamic and interactive, the map lets readers join them at any step — moving backwards or forwards in time with the time selector, zooming into a region they most care about on the map or pulling back to see the big picture.
To Murray, who promotes and oversees the use of digital social media tools in the newsroom, Intersect combines many of the things she likes in social media, like geolocation, reader engagement and social sharing. But one of the most fascinating things about the site, she said, is how it adds an interactive context to something the Free Press and many other media have come to embrace in the social media age — real-time reporting.
“For so many years, newspapers have told stories in the order they think stories should be told. This is the lede, this is the middle, this is the end,” Murray said.“ We now know people want to consume information and read stories in a way that makes sense to them.”
Lam and Kaufman will prepare a print and online series on the carp’s northward progress at the end of their trip. For now, Murray hopes their bite-sized dispatches and the larger story they build pique readers' interest before the series is published.
The Free Press is considering using Intersect in larger investigative projects in the fall, she said. Thanks to the carp project, they’re learning as they go.
“The news audience continues to evolve, get more savvy and use different tools for consuming and sharing information,” she said.
“We need to be right there with them on the forefront.”